An inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre (OCC) has tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first outbreak at a corrections facility in B.C.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said this was “something we were concerned about and planning for.”
— Kat Slepian (@katslepian) April 2, 2020
Measures have been in place at correctional facilities for weeks, said Henry, including restricting visitors, doing health checks and ensuring rapid access to testing should people become ill because of the communal setting. New people entering such facilities are also being isolated for 14 days.
The person who became ill at OCC was isolated and the people who were in his pod are being monitored. So far, there are no other cases.
“Ongoing outbreak protocols are in place,” said Henry. “It’s always challenging in these closed environments, so I know the corrections team at Interior Health and PHSA (Provincial Health Services Authority) are working on this as we speak.”
In Quebec, two inmates tested positive for the virus at the federal maximum-security prison currently housing serial killer Robert Pickton.
Prisoners in the U.S. and parts of the U.K. could be released from jail early in an effort to stem the spread of the virus. Some are calling for similar measures for non-violent offenders in Canada.
Kelowna Capital News has reached out to Interior Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority for a response.